The Message from the Dean of the University is “to provide higher education to tribal members on tribal grounds and according to tribal culture, customs, practices and procedures at no cost to the tribal member or tribal community”. The Mission of Native American University-School of Law [hereinafter NAU] is to provide an innovative and economical program in the study and practice of law; equipping those who live elsewhere, off reservation, to connect with their tribe; and to do so armed with a knowledge of their “pay it forward” implied rights and obligations to the tribe. Our combination of an online law school; law professor assistance law program with oversight from the tribal department of education maintains its high standards by directly involving our academic and administrative staff in the management and development of curricula, syllabi, study materials, review materials and examinations.
This blend of law study appeals to students for different reasons:
It is the combination of these educational ingredients, coupled with convenience and affordability that will appeal to the law student as well. If the tribal student is self-disciplined, ambitious and possesses a desire to become a lawyer in the same manner as some of our greatest presidents, then NAU is where you belong. We are willing to commit to the hard work and sacrifice necessary to complete this task. We are able to offer this valuable opportunity because our staff is committed to the ideal that “Significant Accomplishments Involve Somebody’s Help.”
Dr. Luther Thompson J.D., - Dean
NAU is a combination of three educational partners:
1st Partner: The 1st partner is the online law school which provides the administrative procedures necessary to attend and successfully complete the four continuous years of law school study including:
2nd Partner: The 2nd partner is the dedicated law professors who have taken their professorial talents to the actual tribal grounds providing live law school student professor interaction thirty two  hours per month.
3rd Partner: The 3rd educational partner is the tribe itself, who orchestrates the symphony in education.
How much does it cost the tribe or tribal community?
This is the best news of all. The cost to the tribe and tribal member is zero.
How can this be?
NAU has a collection of grant writers, private foundation award specialists, and volunteers are dedicated to the NAU Mission.
If the opportunity arises to enroll in a “brick & mortar” [B & M] law school; and if the tribal student can afford the tuition; NAU recommends that the tribal student jump at the chance. Having said that, NAU and its educational partners have created for the qualified tribal member,“law school for the rest of us” Set forth infra is a comparison.
B & M Law School NAU Law Program
4 year Bachelor degree 2 year Assoc. Arts degree
or 60 units of general ed.
or CLEP Test equivalency
Law School Adm. Test No Law School Adm. Test
$40K to $60K year tuition No cost to tribe or student
Bar review not offered 4 year bar review course
No apprenticeship Apprenticeship available
No audit of courses Audit any course
Lectures only/no personal Personal 32 hours per week
4 courses per yr. at one time 1 course every 2 months
Enrollment every year Enrollment every 2 months
Waiting list to enter No waiting list
Bar eligibility Bar eligibility
Practice anywhere Practice Cal. state courts and as a Cal. lawyer; by
petition, all other states, federal & tribal courts
No loyalty for tuition break “Pay it forward” to tribe
No culture & customs Native culture & customs
1. Pre-loaded notebook computer available. The enrolled student will lease for Year 1 a pre-loaded notebook for $1.00. When that student matriculates to Year 2, the enrolled student exercises the option to purchase the notebook for Free. That notebook is then pre-loaded for Year’s 2, 3 and 4.
2. Law books provided at no cost to the tribal member or the tribe. NAU and its partners in education employ the same law books as used in the major traditional B & M law schools.
3. Supplemental law school materials. NAU and its educational partners are invited members to an online lecture series presented by noted law professors from major law schools. It is a program known as CALI, co-founded at Harvard University and the University of Minnesota offering very specialized, esoteric legal knowledge to its students which supplements the core curricula of the law school.
4. Auditing of any course at any time by any tribal member. Experience has proven that there are certain members of the tribe which do not necessarily want to become lawyers; but do have an interest in selected law study. Of course auditing a course is impossible at the B & M law schools because they are; to put it politely, tuition driven. Thus far, the audit opportunity at NAU attracts members of the elder community, high school and community college students considering transitioning into the NAU Law Program.
5. “Practical Training for Law Student’s Act [PTLSA]”. The Faculty at NAU are of the notion that ”one best learns Criminal Procedure, Civil Procedure and Evidence in a courtroom, not a classroom.” With approval from the Faculty Counselor, matriculating law students into Year 2 can petition to switch Real Property with Evidence so as to qualify for the PTLSA. This then qualifies the student for work on discovery, pre-trial motions and trial preparation, including limited court appearances in a 2nd chair position pursuant to court, opposing counsel and sponsor counsel approval.
Because NAU is a collection of educational partners, the determination of who is eligible is decided by the Federally Recognized Tribal [FRT] Department of Education in any of the 574 FRT’s. In some cases the tribe has allowed tribal members from neighboring nations to participate.
Native American University
School of Law & Business
Corporate Offices Irvine Law Center
1352 Irvine Boulevard 2nd. floor
Tustin, California 92780
Contact person: University Registrar